Eye on Ag: Winter Complicates Cattle Ranching


The cold winter weather is unpleasant for just about everyone.

That goes for livestock, too.

Ranchers have had to work overtime to keep their cattle happy and healthy this winter.

Tim Olson reports in tonight’s Eye on Agriculture.

(Tim Olson) When winter comes in like a lion, it can be hard on the cows.

(John Schaefer, Ranches in Des Lacs) “The bitter cold really gets to them.”

(Olson) At the Schaefer Ranch in Des Lacs, you’ll find John, his brother Brian, and his dad Jerry pulling long hours, tending to about 400 head of cattle.

(Schaefer) “Everything is harder to do, it takes longer. You’re pushing snow just to get out to the feed, and then you take your time and feed – it’ll get to you after a while.”

(Olson) The abrupt arrival of this year’s winter weather has some ranchers in the region playing catch-up – that means getting the cattle home, putting up shelter from the wind, and feeding them heartier meals.

(John Schaefer, Ranches In Des Lacs) “You’ve gotta up your energy requirements for the cattle, just to help them maintain, let alone gain and grow.”

(John Dhuyvetter, Livestock Specialist) “If we put too much, too quick back in front of her, she’ll overeat and cause some digestive troubles.”

(Olson) That’s John Dhuyvetter, a livestock specialist with the NDSU Research Extension Center in Minot. He knows a thing or two about keeping cattle healthy in winter.

(Dhuyvetter) “Bedding is always a good thing in these bad deals. They can rest on it, they can save some energy sitting on that versus ice.”

(Olson) He says when the forecast calls for snow, it’s important to plan ahead.

(Dhuyvetter) “If it looks like it could get bad, try to overfeed, try to prepare, try to be proactive, because there could be a day where you can’t move.”

(Olson) Schaefer says while the snow and wind may not be pleasant, it’s nothing the cows can’t manage.

(Schaefer) “It’s pretty incredible what these cattle can handle. Livestock, they’re built to survive in this type of weather.”

(Olson) And if they can do it – maybe we can, too.

(Schaefer) “You fight through it. That’s all you can do. Nobody else to do it for you, so you just go do it.”

(Olson) In Des Lacs with your Eye on Agriculture, Tim Olson, KX News.

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